The global metal foams market is set to experience an upsurge in demand in the times to follow. Chemical applications of metal foam are expected to create room for market growth and maturity. Creating metal foam from aluminium has helped manufacturers in reducing their costs of manufacturing, whilst increasing profits. The abundant availability of aluminium has garnered the attention of leading manufacturers. Moreover, metal foams made from aluminium offer several important benefits over other foam types. Therefore, the revenue index of the global metal foams market is set to improve. Use of metal foams for stiffening certain structures has also driven sales across the market.
- Veterinary care has become an investment-ready area with the emergence of several new technologies. Use of metal foams as temporary prosthetics in animals has, therefore, become an area of discussion across the veterinary healthcare sector. Use of these foams in healthcare experiments has also become an important dynamic of market growth. Medical devices are amongst other areas of application for metal foams.
- Damping and filtration are important activities for the chemical industry. The success of several important experiments and processes relies on the effectiveness of filtration techniques. Metal foams act as excellent filtration materials, and this factor has driven demand for these foams in the chemical industry. Study of naturally porous materials found in coral, bones, and cork involves simulation of these materials.
- Heat exchange reactions conducted across chemical engineering require pinpoint control and precision. Moreover, these reactions are used to analyse the properties of several important materials. Therefore, metal foams come in handy for materials studies conducted across the chemical industry. The leading vendors in the global metal foams market are expected to invest in intrinsic research and development. This strategy could lead to the development of more efficient, granular, and porous metal foams.
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Charting a moderate CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) over the period of 2017 to 2025, the global metal foam market is set to see growth of numerous opportunities, and improvement in the market worth. This growth will primarily be attributable to growth in automotive industry.
It is because these are used in producing automobile body sheets. And, these are also used in manufacturing components such as structural parts. Metal foam is preferred here in a big way because absorbs vibration and other noise. Thereby, it improves absorption capability of impact energy. So, in a way, it helps improving performance while keeping vehicles light.
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Some of the trends, drivers and developments that are important to make note of are outlined below:
- About 96.80 million motor vehicles were bought across the word in the year 2017 and as disposable incomes see a steep rise world over, this trend will continue at a more stellar pace than ever. And, growing demand for these causes more light vehicles to be produced. It is worth noting here that worldwide as security takes center stage, demand for metal foam increase notably as it ensures passive safety. Besides, it is so lightweight that it improves efficiency as well as has a good degree of design flexibility. This is contributing to taking the market onto a high growth trajectory of the forecast period.
- Asia-Pacific will present players will new growth opportunities, ready to be tapped into by market players. It will owe this growth to presence of some of the most potent automotive manufacturing players like Mahindra, Toyota, Suzuki, Honda, Dong Feng, Nissan, Tata etc. Besides, growing population and rapid urbanization is adding positively to the growth in the global metal foam market. To add to this, improving lifestyle, as a result of economies demonstrating good performance will also help.
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Global Metal Foams Market: Snapshot
Consisting of solid metal, a metal foam is a cellular structure with gas filled pores containing a large portion of the volume. These pores can be either interconnected (open-cell foam) or sealed (closed-cell foam). Only 5% to 25% of the volume of metal foam is base metal. Its high porosity makes it ultra-light material and this material gets the strength of from square-cube law. Metal foams can be made using materials such as tantalum, titanium, and aluminum.
Metal foams are manufactured by creating air bubbles in the metallic melts. Due to high buoyancy forces these air bubbles tend to rise to the surface in the high-density liquid. This can be prevented by increasing the viscosity of molten metal. Metal foam finds its application in the manufacturing of vehicle parts, vessels, and components in machines. However, its application in automobile industry is gaining popularity as it provides a high strength structure with less weight. Using metal foams in vehicle parts reduces vibration and noise, increases stiffness, and absorbs impact energy, thus ensuring the vehicle performs well on road.
The closed-cell foams find their applications in structures that require load bearing features. They are also used for manufacturing of impact-absorbing and weight-saving structures in vehicles. Whereas, the open-cell foams are used for sound and vibration absorption applications. These are also used for filtration and catalysis for heat exchange. Furthermore they used in manufacturing of medical devices.
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New research studies are favor of the use of titanium and tantalum alloys bone implant materials due to their biocompatibility and suitable physical properties. It is important to note that several research are underway to find new applications of metal foams and new types of metal foams. For instance, in November 2015, researchers at ETH Zurich, Switzerland have created an ultra-light foam from gold, which could be used in applications demanding low weight and high strength applications. The research and development in the field of metal foam is expected to create various new applications for metal foams, thus creating an environment conducive to the growth of the global metal foams market.
A metal foam is a cellular structure consisting of a solid metal with gas-filled pores present over a large portion of the volume. The pores are sealed or interconnected depending on the method of production. The metals that are used to make metal foams include aluminum, titanium, and tantalum. Metal foams have many unique properties that make them an attractive material for components in machines, vessels, and other vehicles, mass products found primarily in cars – car body elements absorbing impact energy, increasing stiffness, and improving the comfort of usage by reducing vibration and noise.
In terms of method, the metal foams market can be divided into powder metallurgy, electro chemical deposition, vacuum vaporization, and casting method. In 2016, the powder metallurgy segment accounted for a significant share in the global metal foams market due to high yield and superior quality of the end product. The low production cost is estimated to drive the powder metallurgy segment of the metal foams market during the forecast period. Increasing demand for metal foams in end-use industries such as automotive, aerospace, construction, etc., is anticipated to boost the demand for metal foams.
In terms of end-use, the metal foams market can be segmented into automotive, aerospace, construction, Industrial, and consumer goods. In 2016, the automotive end-use industry segment held a significant share in the global metal foams market due to rising application of metal foams in the automotive industry. The major application of metal foams in the automotive industry is to reduce vibration and noise. In the construction industry, metal foams are employed to absorb sound.
In terms of region, the global metal foams market can be segmented into Asia Pacific, North America, Europe, Middle East & Africa, and Latin America. Asia Pacific was a major market for metal foams in 2016. It is estimated to expand due to the rising number of end-use industries in the region. Increasing demand for metal foams in the automotive sector is also likely to drive the market in Asia Pacific during the forecast period. The U.S. and China are likely to account for major shares in the metal foams market in North America and Asia Pacific, respectively, due to the evolution in fabrication in these countries. The global market is anticipated to witness a shift from developed countries to the developing economies of Asia due to expansion in the construction sector in the region. China and India are projected to register a high growth rate in the metal foams market due to the advancements in the end-use sectors, technological developments, and wide expansion in application range in these countries. This, in turn, is anticipated to create a significant demand for metal foams in Asia Pacific during the forecast period.
The global demand for metal foams is anticipated to rise significantly in the near future, offering immense growth opportunities for the market. The rapid rise in demand for this product in end-use applications, its competitive manufacturing costs, and the high economic growth rates are key factors propelling the metal foams market in Asia Pacific and attracting companies to adopt expansion and R&D strategies in the region. Market players are focusing on Asia Pacific to gain substantial market share. Producers of metal foams have been compelled to adopt expansion and acquisition strategies to meet the global demand. Several producers are shifting their plants to China and India due to the high demand and low raw material & labor costs in these countries. The developments in various end-use sectors in the region are predicted to fuel the need for metal foams during the forecast period.
Key players operating in the global market include BASF SE, Evonik Industries, Rogers Corporation, SABIC Innovative Plastics, Armacell International, Stylepark AG, and Alantum.